Nick Young scores 41 to lead Lakers past Jazz, 119-104
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Nick Young gave the Lakers a reason to smile near the end of this gloomy season.
Young scored a season-high 41 points and helped Los Angeles snap a seven-game losing streak with a 119-104 victory against the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
The mercurial guard bounced around the court, playing full-throttle.
"You have to find the joy even when you may be frustrated with the way things have been going," Young said.
Coach Mike D’Antoni said: "Nick is fun, a good guy in the sense that he is always laughing and smiling,". "He can get his shot off of anybody and when he gets on rolls, he uncanny in how he can score."
Jodie Meeks had 23 points and Jordan Hill added 21 for Lakers, who had only eight healthy players.
Alec Burks scored 22 points and Gordon Hayward had 21 points for Utah. Enes Kanter had 19 points and 12 rebounds and Trey Burke chipped in 17 for the Jazz, who have lost 10 of 11 games.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 15, 2014
The game was tied at 86 after the third quarter, and then the Lakers found their range. Los Angeles outscored the Jazz 33-18 and the Utah players heard a mix of cheers and boos as the clock expired in their last home game of the season.
Los Angeles converted Utah’s 18 largely unforced turnovers into 29 points and outrebounded the Jazz 21-12 in the second half.
"They were turnovers that didn’t give us a chance to get back and make stops. They made us pay," Utah coach Ty Corbin said.
Young fought through ball denials to get off shots all over the court — jumpers and acrobatic drives to the baskets. He yelled at the crowd and bobbed his head, flashing a variety of hand signals after swishing 3s.
"Hey Swaggy P can play a little bit and I just want you people to see that. I got a future. I can do my thing, I’m telling you all. Better watch out for me," Young said, referencing his self-proclaimed alter-ego.
Three late misses stopped him short of his career-high of 43 points.
"That was tough. It was great to have my teammates and my coach try and help me out there. I wish I had those last few shots back," Young said.
In recent days, the teams were locked in a battle for lottery seeding and a better chance at one of the top four picks in the 2014 draft. The Jazz seem to have solidified the fourth slot and may match their club-worst 24-58 record in 1979-80, the first season after the franchise moved from New Orleans to Utah.
The Lakers have no reason to tank for a better lottery seed as most will be elsewhere next season. A dozen of the 15 players on the roster could be free agents, including Young if he opts out of his $1.2 million deal for next season.
The Jazz started the presumed core of their future — Hayward, Derrick Favors, Kanter, Burks and Burke — for the third time this season but all three games have ended in late-game collapses and losses.
The Lakers have already set a record for most losses in a season, the worst since the NBA went to an 82-game slate. They will miss the playoffs for the just the second time in two decades but this win stopped them short of their first eight-game skid since March 2005.
"We’re not last place now," Young said. "We’re not quitters."
D’Antoni and Corbin are both rumored to be on their way out and the game resembled a pre-season contest with porous defenses, lots of broken plays and sloppy turnovers.
The lack of defensive intensity did lead to excellent accuracy as the Lakers hit 55 percent of their field goals and the Jazz shot 52 percent from the floor.
The Jazz led by as many as 13 points before the Lakers closed the half on a 19-2 run, powered by Meeks’ nine points.
"Early on we struggled, but that’s basketball. We knew we were going to make some runs," Meeks said.
NOTES: A significant portion of crowd was dressed in gold and out-cheered the home crowd as the Lakers rallied to take the lead at the end of the first half and opened a big advantage in the fourth quarter. . Not one of the Lakers that started this game was in the lineup of the opening game of the season. . Burke, Burks, Kanter, Favors, Jeremy Evans, and Rudy Gobert are the only players with guaranteed contracts with the Jazz for next season. . Kendall Marshall had 2 points and 15 assists for the Lakers.